Balloon Competition


November 1nd (Wed) to November 5th (Sat) am, 2023


7:00-9:00*, 15:00-17:00*

*Scheduled time is tentative and subject to change based on competition type and weather.

Balloon competition is the sky sports to compete how closer the pilot can get to the target.

As you know, hot-air-balloon does not have a handlebar or a steering wheel to control like an airplane and a car.
The only thing the balloon pilots can do is that they ignite burners, and then ascent by inflating the envelope with hot air and descent by exhausting hot air to the outside. If they want to move in a horizontal direction, the only they can do is to use natural wind force in the upper sky.

There are many different kinds of layers of winds in the upper sky of the Saga plains where 2016 World Hot Air Balloon Championship (Saga International Balloon Fiesta) is held. The directions and speed of winds are different in each layer and they are changed with time. So, it is called one of the most difficult competition areas in Japan.
To get closer to the goal or the target, pilots need to have high level controlling skills with the sharp and momentary judgement for the wind property. And also they need to be close contact with crews on the ground to know how the wind frequency has changed because information pilots can get in the sky are limited.

In these manners because balloon competitions are needed natural winds, TASK accommodated weather conditions at the time are decided by the Task Briefing held just before the competitions.

As the typical task, there are Judge Declared Goal (JDG) and Pilot Declared Goal (PDG). There is also the task called Minimum Distance (MND) ; the takeoff place and the target are the same. Sometimes they have plural tasks in straight succession in one flight according to the weather condition then.

Tasks contain the distance to the target, the takeoff time and the time limit expiration, and detailed rules. They are put together in one task sheet and it is distributed to the pilots.

In the Task Briefing, the event directors explain about tasks and the weather condition, and pilots are supplied small sandbags, which are packed with small plastic beads in fact, called Marker. When the competition is held with plural tasks in 1 flight, pilots are supplied different colored markers and they have to drop a marker of the assigned color in accordance to the task sheet.

Pilots conform to the set tasks and try to drop a marker when they got closer to the target. The pilot who made it closer without infringements gets high score.

In Saga International Balloon Fiesta, competitions are held twice a day, in the morning and afternoon.

When the competition gets near, we are often asked from visitors "I'm planning to go there on XX day. Do you have a competition on XX day? " We are afraid to say that we do not know whether it is held or not, and what tasks are held then. They are affected by its weather condition at that time and decided by the Task Briefing just before the competition starts.

We announce the issue of Task Briefing all at once by the public address, the official site, and Official SNS such as Facebook and twitter in order to do justice.

Japanese site

Last Modified: 2023.06.06

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